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We reviewed published, quantitative studies examining the effects of exotic plants in native vegetation on the species richness and abundance of birds and mammals. We asked whether the incursion of exotic plants into native vegetation has led to consistent declines, increases or no changes in bird and mammal species richness and abundance. Bird species richness and abundance tended not to be lower in sites with exotic plants (exotic sites) compared with sites without exotic plants (native sites). However, there are some reported cases of declines in richness, and declines and increases in abundance of birds in exotic sites. While there is not enough evidence to generate broad patterns in relation to species richness of mammals in exotic sites, abundances of individual mammal species demonstrated idiosyncratic responses (either increases, decreases, or no changes) to the incursion of exotic plants. Any differences observed in species richness and abundance of birds and mammals between exotic and native sites are probably due to habitat modifications by exotic plants resulting in changes to vegetation that is important for foraging, protection, and reproduction of the vertebrates. Importantly, our review found no published, quantitative evidence that the incursion of exotic plants into native vegetation leads to the over-abundance of any bird or mammal species. Nevertheless, the results of our review must be viewed as preliminary findings: there is still much to be done to untangle the complex ecological effects of exotic plants on birds and mammals in native vegetation.

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